The Film Blog: A Trip To Jamaica? The AMVCAs also need to do some soul searching

Who would have thought that when we were calling out the Best of Nollywood Awards, and praising the AMVCAs in the process, we’d be find cause to do the same thing to the Africa Magic Viewers Choice awards a few days later?

The AMVCAs have made some questionable choices over the years, which we won’t get into now, but we were willing to look past them and chalk whatever issues they had up to growing pains. It might seem ironic to say that about such a behemoth as the AMVCAs but that might be the result of them landing with such a splash from inception.

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The first edition came out of nowhere to blow every other film event in Nigeria out of the water in terms of organization and sheer glitz and glamour.

And every edition since has only raised the bar.

We expect this years edition to do the same, but now we have to be honest and say that there are some irredeemable and, honestly inexcusable “issues” with the awards.

The first thing to note is, the AMVCAs want to be for everybody. You can see it in the categories. From the “Indigenous Language” categories to the East/West/South Africa categories, here’s something for everyone. Which is great. It is “Africa Magic,” after all, and inclusivity is only a plus.

The problems start when this extends to the actual nominees, especially when it comes at the expense of credibility.

Awards shows will always be contentious. At the end of the day, there’s a healthy level of opinion that goes into these things.

But, come on.

We will preface this by saying it is entirely our opinion, but A Trip To Jamaica is an absolute mess of a movie. AY himself wouldn’t dare praise the alleged writing of that dirge. So, giving this movie’s disgraceful screenplay a nomination is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who holds the AMVCAs in high esteem. It is an insult to anyone, period. 

The screenplay category gives us several reasons to pause. Tunde Babalola for The CEO and Ghana Must Go? Two movies that, if nothing else, served to demystify the man’s alleged writing prowess? Shame.

But okay.

A Trip To Jamaica is undeserving of any awards whatsoever. And we are not alone in thinking this. In any sane clime, this movie would have been shut out completely. 

But this is Nigeria. And we wouldn’t be Nigeria without industry politics. So, we get it, the need to play to the gallery.

But are we not even trying to be reasonable here?

Are we not going to try and PRETEND we have even the smallest modicum of standards?

This is a bad film, let’s be clear. But while all its parts were terrible (from acting to directing,) the writing still managed to outdo the rest to come out as the absolute worst component of the production. The terribleness of the screenplay is almost as shocking as this move by Africa Magic to acknowledge it as anything other than a cautionary tale for the industry.

This movie should not be ANYWHERE on that nominations list, but if there was such a desperation to award the movie, why not stick to the more obscurely identifiable parts like say, sound editing and video editing? It’s easier to get away with those. It’s not like anyone remembers what the movie sounded like in theatres the way we remember that AY’s acting was awful, that the writing (again) was disastrous, and that the movie as a whole was a mess.

But beyond our irritation, we find this extremely sad. Because this continues to send the message that people can do terrible work and ride the wave of hype all the way to success on all fronts. This is a movie which was vilified critically, and by audiences (who had no expectations beyond cheap humour to begin with) but here we are. 

And in the same year that gave us Niyi Akinmolayan’s The Arbitration, with what was by and large one of the most intelligent (if slightly undercooked) and inventive screenplays to come out of Nigeria in recent years.

What a shame.

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